It all adds up to fun

Pupils achieving the highest scores on written tests advance to a state competition in March.
By JoANNE VIVIANO
VINDICATOR EDUCATION WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Anthony Blackburn's whisper is excited as he sends it across the table to his teammate.
"198! 198!"
He crosses his hands and mouths to himself, "Please."
Anthony, a seventh-grader at LaBrae High School, competed in the daylong Mathcounts event Friday at Youngstown State University.
During the event's "Mathbowl" portion, he and three teammates wagered 198 points on the question: "The cost of 10 pencils is 84 cents. At the same rate, what is the cost, in dollars, of 25 pencils?"
Although the LaBrae team came up with the correct answer, the wager didn't pull them ahead of other teams in their bracket.
But Anthony said he was having fun.
"I wouldn't be involved if it wasn't fun," he said of the event that tested the math skills of nearly 300 seventh- and eighth-grade pupils from 39 schools in Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull counties.
Mathcounts is sponsored by YSU's Rayen College of Engineering and Technology and the Mahoning Valley Society of Professional Engineers. Other funding comes from Dominion East Ohio Co., D.D. Davis Construction Co., General Motors Lordstown and the YSU Arby's Restaurant.
During the competition's morning session, pupils took written, individual and team tests. Top scorers advance to a March state competition from which winners head to nationals.
'Mathbowl' game
But the fast-paced "Mathbowl" competition was just for fun.
Part of the fun involved answering questions such as these:
UThe arithmetic mean of 5, 5 and x is 5.3. What is the value of x?
UWhat is the largest three-digit multiple of 9 whose digits' sum is 18?
UWhat is the number of square centimeters in the area of one 30-degree section of a circle of radius 12 centimeters? Express your answer in terms of pi.
Teams did their best to figure each problem under a time limit, and wagered a certain amount of points (they started with 200) on each answer.
Those watching the competitors were mostly silent, some figuring the math on their own pads of paper. At times, a chorus of "ooh" would erupt.
Most pupils, such as Scott Wilster, 13, a Brookfield Middle School eighth-grader who wants to be a scientist, said they enjoy math for the challenge it presents.
Austintown Middle School eighth-graders Tiffiny Rummell and Jessica Reigrut, both 14, said problems were more difficult than they had expected. But both like the challenge mathematics presents.
Her best subject
Rachel Starr, 13, an eighth-grader at Turner Middle School, Warren, said she's glad math is her best subject -- even if her friend calls her a "nerd."
"I always help everybody out, and if I didn't ... our class would just flunk," said the algebra pupil.
The day ended with a "Countdown Round" competition among the 16 top individual scorers on written tests.
Ashley Angelotti and Leslie Wang, eighth-graders from Howland Middle School, grabbed a snack as Ashley waited to compete.
Ashley, 13, said she wants to be an attorney someday and probably won't need high-level math skills. Leslie, 13, wants to be a writer and may not need them, either.
"But we love it," Ashley said.
viviano@vindy.com